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Thread: Left handed playing right handed guitar

  1. #1
    Registered User Santuzzo's Avatar
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    Question Left handed playing right handed guitar

    Hi there.

    Here is a question I originally posted on another website-forum.
    I'd also like to get some answers and opinions from you guys because this topic has been bothering me quite a deal .... so here we go :

    I'm having a big problem, which is :
    I'm left handed but I've been playing right handed for many years. Like 10 years ago I was big time into shred and I practiced very hard on my picking, but somehow I couldn't get my right hand up to some reasonable speed. Then when I got a bit older I got into Jazz and kinda forgot about the metal-virtuoso thing.
    Just lately I listened to some of my old CDs and watched some of my old Guitar-instructional video tapes of some great shredders, and that sort of brought my desire to become a fast picker back to live.
    So I started out practicing on single strings (exercises focusing on the raw speed of right hand alternate picking). But I couldn't get any faster than max. 120-140 bpm(playing 16ths on an open string), but when I turned the guitar around, picking with my left hand I could easily get it up to about 200 bpm (again playing 16ths on an open string) (never ever having practiced picking with my left hand before, whereas I spent many, many hours over quite some years on practicing my right hand picking).
    Also when I try to speed-pick with my right hand, I have to move my whole elbow, whereas with my lef hand I can do it just moving the wrist, making small, precise movements.

    So now I'm considering getting a left-handed guitar and starting over playing left handed. I'm quite sure my left hand would develop very well, the only thing I'm not so sure about is, is whether my right hand will manage to learn to do all the fretting.

    Can anybody out there give me some advice, does anybody have experience with this ???
    Do you think I should start playing left-handed, or just keep practicing right handed, even though I could pick much faster (at the moment, a t least) with my left hand ?

    Another thought I had was : maybe I should keep practicing right handed, but just start very, very slowly (about 60bpm playing 16ths) and then move up one or two bpm per week. This would certainly take a long time until I get fast, but it might work. What would you suggest ???



    Actually, in the meantime I already bought a left-handed guitar and started practicing on that thing. Felt weird in the beginning (actually still does) ...
    I'm still not quite sure whether I'm doing the right thing here, still kinda in doubt .....

    I'd very much appreciate any answers and advice greatly !I'm really kinda desperate here ....

    Thanks a lot in advance !!!

    Cheers

    Lars

  2. #2
    Registered User CaptainCarma's Avatar
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    Hi Lars,

    first off all, welcome to this wonderful site.


    regarding your problem, I have to say, that itīs mine too.
    I am a lefty playing righthanded and have always been confronted with the same problem.

    but sorry, I ainīt got a solution to it, I just keep on practising hard and hope to brake the chains some day.


    Marc

  3. #3
    Hi Lars,

    Iīd say just go by your gut feeling!

    If youīre a naturaly born lefthanded person you should definitely play lefthanded cause all your nervous system, reflexes and brain are naturaly "programed" to work lefthanded. Any attempt to change this could seriously cause motorial problems.
    Of course you say youīve been already playing for ten years righthanded so itīs really hard to change at first but as you noticed for yourself youīve got much more feel control-wise in your lefthand when doing picking stuff.

    Iīm lefthanded and I play lefthanded guitars strung up righthanded and never had a problem. I just took a normal righthanded guitar and turned it upside down cause it was the natural thing for me to do.

    Also to cheer you up a bit, remember that a lot of great minds were and are lefthanded: Jimi Hendrix, Paul Mc Cartney, Einstein, Napoleon, Homer Simpson...( jk)

    TK

  4. #4
    Registered User Moonchild's Avatar
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    Hi Lars!

    I'm also left-handed and I made the decision to (at least try to) play the guitar right-handed. I've been playing for almost a year now and I have to say that it really is working for me. Of course I've spent a lot of time working on my picking technique (well, actually that is pretty much all I have been working on so far ), and although I'm not the greatest shredder, I think I've got pretty nice phrasing and I've been making serious improvement speed-wise in the last couple of months. I've been practicing about 4-5 hours a day for some time now, and I don't think that I could switch to a left-handed guitar now.

    Of course, that is not an answer to your question. I think what you should do is give right-handed playing a try (which you obviously have done already since you've been playing for 10 years ) and then just go with the gut-feel. If you don't feel comfortable playing the guitar right-handed after 10 years, chances are you never will...

    Well, that's just my two cents.
    - Erik

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Thorsten

    I?m lefthanded and I play lefthanded guitars strung up righthanded and never had a problem. I just took a normal righthanded guitar and turned it upside down cause it was the natural thing for me to do.

    You play with strings upside down, Thorsten?

  6. #6
    Laiho's heir guitarist wild_child's Avatar
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    Also to cheer you up a bit, remember that a lot of great minds were and are lefthanded: Jimi Hendrix, Paul Mc Cartney, Einstein, Napoleon, Homer Simpson..
    its been scientifically proven that left handed people use more of their brain than right handed people, its also been proven that musicians have a higher IQ than non musicians, if youre both then you should be pretty clever

    i'm ambidextrous (both-handed) either that or i'm just indecisive
    i write with my left hand though, which most people consider to define which is your first hand, however when i used to play tennis (i was national standard - oh yeah ) i used my right hand, and i also play guitar right handed.. i guess my right hand is my more dominant one but its been mostly conscious choices because most products are made for right handed people. i'm a lefty at heart though or "da schlaght es links" as that guy from rammstein says
    "Remember, it's all good, everything goes and there ain't no damned rules or boundaries. So get off! Tear it a fresh ***, tear it hard, rip gaping holes in it! Make tracks, leave marks!

    "forever stronger than all" - Dimebag Darrell

  7. #7
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    its been scientifically proven that left handed people use more of their brain than right handed people, its also been proven that musicians have a higher IQ than non musicians, if youre both then you should be pretty clever
    LOL!
    -Bizarro
    Google is your friend

  8. #8
    Originally posted by primal65
    You play with strings upside down, Thorsten?
    Yes, I do!

    Check this out:
    Shred Talk

    Only other guitarist I could think of who also played that way is legendary blues player Albert King. He also played a Flying V most of the time.

    TK

  9. #9
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    Heh, that's pretty cool, man.

    I'd love to see you play sometimes. It would probably make me go crosseyed as I watched your fingers while you play (which is of course what all us guitar players do lol).

  10. #10
    Registered User CaptainCarma's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Thorsten
    Only other guitarist I could think of who also played that way is legendary blues player Albert King. He also played a Flying V most of the time.

    TK
    Eric Gales plays this way, too.

  11. #11
    Registered User Santuzzo's Avatar
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    Thank you !

    Thanks a lot to everybody for your answers !!!

    Is there anybody else out there who'd like to give their opinion about my initial thread/question?

    I'd appreciate it very much !

    Cheers

    Lars

  12. #12
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    I'm sort of ambidextrous but I'm more of a righty so that's what felt best for me. A friend of mine in college was a lefty playing right-handed. He had a very strong fretting hand but his picking wasn't so hot.

    Steve Morse is a lefty but plays right. He's not too bad

    Jimi Hendrix also did the "upside down" string thing from time to time. He was really decent either way. Stevie Ray Vaughan could do it too but that's not as well known.

    Eric Gales is really amazing! He was "first in line" after SRV passed on but he didn't hit it big and grunge sort of stole his thunder. Too bad because the kid could wail!
    -Bizarro
    Google is your friend

  13. #13
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    I happen to be left-handed playing right-handed, and while my legato technique is fairly good(sixteenths at 180-200), my picking is quite poor at the moment(16ths at 160 and not as articulate as I'd like it). I'd rather play this way, though. It really feels better than... *cough* The left-handed Way of Doom.

  14. #14
    Originally posted by MadLicker
    The left-handed Way of Doom.
    LOL I love this! Thatīll be a great title for my solo record...

  15. #15
    Central Scrutinizer
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    I don't think which way you play really matters that much and in fact having your better hand doing the fretwork might actually be an advantage since generally your asking it to do more complicated things than the picking hand.
    That of course depends on what your playing. If your trying to chug out downpicked 16th notes in your picking hand with slamming down powerchords in your fret hand this might not be the case.
    Or if you trying to play like Steve Morse whose picking hand is usually doing some very diffucult stuff, this may not be the case either.
    Then again Steve's (IMO) one of the best all round pickers around, and he's left handed playing right handed.
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

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